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Part 7: Shinagawa Kodokan

 In 1884, the Kodokan bylaws were drawn up. In these, the ideas of seiryoky zenyo and jita kyoei were firmly established. "Taking together all the merits I have acquired from the various schools of ju jitsu, and adding my own devices and inventions, I have founded a new system for physical culture, mental training and winning contests. This I call Kodokan Judo."

 In that year, the first Kodokan tournament was held, the Red and White contest, held since then to the present. This was also the year that the "kagami birake" was first held, the "Rice Cake Cutting Ceremony" that celebrates the Japanese New Year on the second Sunday of every January. It is the beginning of winter training season, a celebration that has become a Kodokan tradition celebrated by Kodokan-affiliates around the world. Students ran from the Dojo for a distance of three or four miles, and then back again, in the cold dead of winter, then practiced vigorously in the cold Dojo for two hours.

In 1885, the Kodokan won its first recorded contest with the Metropolitan police, in a shiai, pitting the police ju jitsu against Judo in organized competition for the first time. The first of many such matches that the Kodokan won.

In 1886, Yajiro Shinagawa, an industrialist, had been appointed ambassador to England and asked Kano to take care of his house, located in the Fujimi-cho district of Tokyo. To the ambassador's amused dismay, when he returned on a visit, he discovered his home had been turned into the newest version of the Kodokan, with 40 training mats. The good-natured magnate permitted practice there for the next four years, and, as word of the Kodokan's technical superiority spread, many ju jitsu masters and schools met their masters at this Shinagawa Kodokan.(1)

In 1886, Shochugeiko, the beginning of summer training celebration, was inaugurated. Reflecting the rigorous workout in the summer heat, comparable to the Kangeiko of winter training, it became another Kodokan tradition.

During this time, students of Kano remarked on his personal Judo, that "he was small, but a very good technician, ... fast and very strong." [Saburo Nango]. He did not like mat work and preferred standing throws. His assistants and students had to work extra hard on their own to develop the mat skills necessary to meet and defeat their ju jitsu counterparts. Kano was well-built. Although only 5'2" tall, he now was physically powerful at 165 pounds, and contemporaries commented on his muscular build and strong legs.

During this decade, Kano was his usual busy self. He spent two hours each morning teaching at his school for Chinese students, the Kobun Gakuen, then rode a rickshaw to the Gakushin, the Peer's School. After work he would teach at the Kodokan, then, late at night, he would spend two hours preparing lectures for the next day.

In 1886, an historic passage came for the Kodokan when the Tokyo Metropolitan Police hosted a showdown between the Kodokan and the ju jitsu school considered the strongest fighting school in Japan at the time, the Totsuka-ha Yoshin-ryu jujutsu. Other well-known jujitsu masters were included, but the predominant powerful ju jitsu school was Totsuka-ha. As Kano himself observed: ""Totsuka Hikosuke was considered the strongest jujutsuka of the Bakumatsu Period (end of the shogunate). After Hikosuke, (his son) Eimi carried the name of the school, and he trained many outstanding jujutsuka. . . In truth, Totsuka's side had powerful fighters and were no blowhards. . . When you mentioned the name Totsuka, you meant the greatest jujutsu masters of that era. My own Tenshin Shinyo-ryu and Kito-ryu (jujutsu) teachers were sorely pressed when they went up against Totsuka jujutsu masters at the shogunate's Komusho dojo. . ." 

Kodokan lost only two matches, and drew one, winning the remaining 12 matches fought. The epic battle, preserved in Akiro Kurosawa's classic film "Sanshiro Sugata," saw the resounding victory of Kodokan Judo, a small fraction of the existing ju jitsu practitioners of Japan, over the strongest recognized combat art jujitsu masters. The history of martial arts was forever changed.

In 1891, Kano married Sumako, daughter of a former ambassador to Korea, Seisei Takesoe. Kano's family ultimately included six daughters and three sons.

In 1895, Kano was made headmaster of the Gakushin. The school, catering to the Imperial household and titled families, was among the most prestigous positions in Japan. It was unheard of for a 35-year old to be put in charge of this educational facility. Kano immediately began revolutionizing the Gakushin. High borne students were required to do menial tasks each day to instill humility. Kano rejected the notion that to be noble-born somehow implied superior ability. Commoners were admitted to study. To instill a discipline of daily living and study, Kano made the school a boarding school, and students were allowed to return to their families only on weekends. The parents of the students were grateful for the magnificent changes Kano brought to the Imperial household. From there, he was put in charge of the Tokyo Teacher's Training School, now Tokyo University of Education. Kano, among a few others, brought modern education to Japan and his reputation there rests as much with this as with Judo.

His thoughts on Judo paralleled his thoughts on general education. Kano advocated the so-called "Three Culture Principle" consisting of intellectual, moral, and physical cultures, and in the system of education importance was had on the harmony of these three cultures. He was very much against any educational system which lacked harmony of the three cultures, as manifested in his own words, "Present day education is unduly inclined toward intellectual culture, and if nothing is done about it, physical and moral training will become deficient" (Yuko-no-Katsudo: Vol. 5, No. 8, 1919).(1)

Kano's principle of education was the harmonious development of the three cultures: intellectual, moral, and physical (Judo: July, 1923). On the interrelationship of these three cultures he stated that, "Ordinarily, because one is alive intelligence and morals become necessary. Therefore, the maintenance of life is of primary importance. Next in the order of importance is the moral aspect, because if one cannot lead a moral life his life is useless. Life becomes more useful and meaningful with the increase of the intellect, and consequently the intellectual aspect follows the moral aspect in importance". But, also, since the maintenance of life becomes necessary in order to increase the merit of the individual, the order becomes reversed" (Judo: July, 1923).



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Kano Jigoro's
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